December 1, 2015

New From OCLC Research & RLUK: Survey of Special Collections and Archives in the United Kingdom and Ireland

The following report was released today by OCLC Research and RLUK.


Survey of Special Collections and Archives in the United Kingdom and Ireland


Jackie Dooley
Rachel Beckett
Alison Cullingford
Katie Sambrook
Chris Shepard
Sue Worrall

Key Findings

  • The top challenges for archives and special collections in the UK and Ireland are outreach, born-digital materials and space.
  • Alignment of special collections with institutional missions and priorities is an ongoing challenge.
  • The special collections sector is undergoing a major culture shift that mandates significant retraining and careful examination of priorities.
  • Philanthropic support is limited, as are librarians’ fundraising skills.
  • Use of all types of special collections material has increased across the board.
  • Users expect everything in libraries and archives to bedigitized.
  • One-third of archival collections are not discoverable in online catalogs.
  • Management of born-digital archival materials remains in its infancy.

The report also contains twenty recommendations that the authors feel will have a positive impact toward addressing the issues identified.

Direct to Executive Summary (12 pages; PDF)

Direct to Full Text Report: Survey of Special Collections and Archives in the United Kingdom and Ireland (153 pages; PDF)

See Also: OCLC Research and Research Libraries UK to Survey Special Collections and Archives in Research Libraries Within the UK and Ireland” (June 30, 2011)

See Also: Direct to 2010 Full Text Report: “Taking Our Pulse: The OCLC Research Survey of Special Collections and Archives” (PDF)

Gary Price About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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